This is a response to Leonce Crump’s “Time to Listen” articles found here
Before I start I want to thank pastor Crump for all the good he has done for Christ’s Kingdom. Make no mistake, he’s done much to bring light to a dark and desperate world. I’m not here to diminish or deny that. In fact, I don’t even want to write this blog, but I feel compelled to and I pray that he will be receptive to it. I also pray that any areas of my heart that lack compassion or grace will be exposed and that God will melt them away.
Crump starts with this…
“I’m sorry for being white!” His comment glowed from the computer screen with such weight that for a moment it was as if it was etched there permanently. What, you may wonder, was the context of this comment? It was written on the Facebook wall of one of my congregants. It was written by her father in response to her trying to explain why Ferguson has been so painful for so many in the African-American community. I was truly in disbelief. He was once a Southern Baptist pastor.
What I wanted to write back, but didn’t is “Are you?” Are you sorry for being white? Or are you sick of having the privilege of your whiteness surfaced and challenged by the plight of my (our) collective “blackness?” Are you tired of “us” pointing out the obvious inequalities of our society? Should I, as a Creole, mixed-race, African American, Evangelical leader sit quietly by, not saying a word about what has transpired in Ferguson and many other cities so that your white daughter would not feel compelled to speak out and the comfort of your reality would remain.
Apparently Crump feels the girl’s father actually should apologize for being white. As if the man had a choice. And even if he had a choice, is God not the One who chose what color of skin the man would have? Even if all he meant is that he wishes the man would have acknowledged that throughout American history whites have had an easier time than blacks, his wording was laced with venom, resentment and an accusatory tone that implies the man had a hand in oppression of blacks.
Now, I didn’t read the exact comments in question, but my guess is that the man was not insinuating that Crump should not have an opinion and should “sit quietly by.” He put words in the man’s mouth that he probably never said.
This comment is filled with the type of sarcastic, defensive vitriol that has populated the Twitter timelines, Instagram feeds, and Facebook posts of so many white evangelicals. And it seems to capture the mindset of the majority. Note, I said majority, not all. I make that point to ensure that I (with my white wife, tri-racial children, and transcultural church) won’t be labeled here, as I have been in other places, a “racist,” “race-baiter,” or “divisive.”
It’s odd that Crump is accusing someone of sarcastic, defensive vitriol when he’s taking the same tone throughout the entirety of these articles. He then goes on to imply that these kinds of defensive attitudes capture the mindset of the majority of whites. Wow, could you paint with a broader brush pastor? He then attempts to dull the sting of that comment by saying “Note, I said majority, not all. I make that point to ensure that I (with my white wife, tri-racial children, and transcultural church) won’t be labeled here, as I have been in other places, a ‘racist,’ ‘race-baiter,’ or ‘divisive.'” Ok, so broad brushing the majority of white people as harboring resentment or defensiveness towards blacks makes it an A-OK statement, so long as you didn’t say ALL whites were that way? If a white person was to say something like “the majority of blacks are better athletes than whites” or “the majority of blacks have more rhythm than whites” the person would be labeled racist. You can’t make sweeping accusations of even a majority of people unless you have some way to prove it, otherwise, yes, you come across as racist or at the very least prejudiced. And having a white wife doesn’t automatically mean a person can’t be racist or prejudiced towards whites. There are plenty of racists out there who are married to or are dating someone of a different race, so his point there is irrelevant. Also take note of how he didn’t appreciate being labeled “divisive” because we’re going to come back to that at the end of this blog.
This comment captures the very reason why many African Americans feel so alone in this, and why men like my friend and mentor Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile have had to call out our camp for being saved on silent. This comment, and others that seem to quickly jump to the defense of officer Wilson with disregard for the fact that a human life has been taken, creates a struggle in me that I must diligently work against: the belief that my white brothers and sisters simply don’t care about the African-American narrative in this country or they don’t believe it has enough value to be acknowledged.
This article was written before the grand jury declined to indict officer Wilson, and Crump chastises those that “seem to quickly jump to the defense of officer Wilson.” But apparently it’s perfectly fine to quickly rush to judgment against officer Wilson and quickly jump to the defense of Michael Brown, as you’ll see from his interactions on Twitter…
That tweet was sent on August 13th, just 4 days after Michael Brown was shot, and long before all of the facts had come in. Yet he’s already demanding justice, which would imply that Darren Wilson had shot Michael Brown unjustly. This is the height of hypocrisy, for him to judge people that “seem to quickly jump to the defense of officer Wilson” while he quickly jumps to condemn him.
That last comment is truly unbelievable. Did he really type the words “There’s no facts that can persuade me this shooting death was justifiable.”? That comment is utterly horrifying. I cannot believe a Christian, much less a pastor, would utter those words publicly or even harbor the thought privately. This is classic lynch mob mentality.
And this next tweet might be the saddest one of all, as he is clearly breeding contempt for police officers in his six year old child despite being presented with a perfect opportunity to teach her about respect for authority, and obeying the law…
Returning to the article, he then says this is the reason that he feels white people don’t care about the narrative of black people in this country. What a tremendous jump in logic! So because we all didn’t immediately jump on the “Wilson is guilty” bandwagon with him that apparently means no one cares about the injustices that blacks endured in the history of our country? This line of reasoning is, well, completely unreasonable!
Now Crump moves on to his personal experiences with police….
I am 6’5”. I weigh 270 pounds. I’ve been called imposing. The police have stopped me, both walking and driving, nearly once a year since I was 15 years old. Though I have been asked to leave my vehicle, thrown to the ground and against my vehicle, interrogated, frisked, and cuffed on these occasions, I’ve not been cited. Not once.
Until you feel the humiliation of this moment, particularly as a “decent, civilized, educated black,”—Yes, that’s an actual quote of how someone referred to me once, behind my back of course—then you cannot say that it is an anomaly. You cannot say that someone was “just doing his or her job.”
The most troubling of these incidents took place just a few years ago in Texas. My wife and I were driving to my childhood home of Louisiana. We were pulled over, but weren’t speeding. I wasn’t driving erratically. I wasn’t intoxicated. And it was broad daylight.
The two officers approached our vehicle, and when the lead saw me, one immediately placed his hand on his firearm.
I’m not sure why Crump finds it necessary to mention that the officer put his hand on his firearm. This is not an uncommon practice for officers. It’s just being cautious. He didn’t pull his gun out and point it at Crump or something like that. An officer putting a hand on his gun is simply being cautious. Believe it or not, sometimes people suddenly start shooting at officers, completely unprovoked as seen here, here, here, here, and here. Forgive him for caring about his own safety, especially when it’s a man of Crump’s size, 6’5″ 270 pounds and athletic (Crump had a brief stint as an NFL defensive tackle)
My wife was visibly nervous. We’d just been joking sarcastically about hoping we didn’t get pulled over in Texas for being an interracial couple. Then, in a flash, the joke became reality.
Crump doesn’t realize that he just admitted to being prejudiced against police. He and his wife were joking about how they might get stopped for being an interracial couple, implying that this is a common practice for police in Texas. Oh, better watch out for those Texas cops! Bunch of redneck racists! Could stop you for a DWB (driving while black) at any moment! Imagine if a white pastor said, “My wife and I were driving through a rough black neighborhood and joked about how we hoped we wouldn’t get robbed, then the joke became a reality!” What Crump is saying is basically the same difference. Now, it is quite possible that he was dealing with a racist police officer that stopped him for no reason, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that this kind of thing doesn’t happen on occasion, although I’ve never personally witnessed a fellow officer do this in nearly 7 years of big city policing. Perhaps it’s more common in rural Texas, I don’t really know, and Crump didn’t specify what part of Texas he was in. But he has no way of knowing he was stopped for “no reason.” I believe him that he wasn’t speeding, driving erratically or intoxicated. But those aren’t the only reasons police stop someone. He didn’t specify if the officer ever did explain to him why he was stopped, and if the officer didn’t explain why, he certainly should have, but he could have been stopped for a number of reasons. His vehicle may have matched the description of a vehicle they were looking for, or he could be right and it could have just been a racist cop looking to harass someone. The point is, he doesn’t KNOW, and shouldn’t presume to know that he was stopped because he was black. In the next part he’ll lead you to believe it was the way he was treated which proves he was stopped and harassed for no reason, but there’s more to it than that, which I’ll explain.
The officer asked me to step out of my vehicle. I refused.
This is most likely why the officer copped an attitude, because Crump copped one first. Most people, not everyone, but most people who aren’t doing anything wrong and aren’t hiding something from the police will have no problem cooperating with police. Most criminals, on the other hand, will be resistive and defiant to anything an officer requests. And most people that start a conversation with attitude can expect to receive attitude in return, that’s just the nature of all human interaction. The officer doesn’t know Crump from Adam. He doesn’t know Crump is a law-abiding pastor and Christian. Officers are trained to view everyone as if they could be a threat, and when they immediately get attitude and resistance from a driver their defenses are going to go up too. I may have mentioned earlier that some people hate and even kill police officers. The officer doesn’t know if Crump is a pastor or someone that’s hiding 5 bricks of black tar heroin and a pistol under the seat. Maybe if Crump had been friendly and cooperative, his experience here would have gone differently. Maybe not, maybe the officer would have treated him exactly the same either way, who knows, but Crump can’t honestly be surprised when an officer is a bit abrasive when he starts the entire encounter with a defiant attitude towards a lawful request.
By this time I’d earned an M.S. in Criminal Justice, my focus in this degree was case law and judiciary process, which of course included an extensive study of policing histories and practices. So yes, I refused to get out of the car. But my wife pleaded, and the officer demanded. So, I complied.
Always love it when people who have a degree in law or criminal justice think they know more about police work than… well… actual police officers.
The officer immediately grabbed me and began asking me where I was coming from, where I was going, and if I had anything in my vehicle of “concern.” Meanwhile, the other officer interrogated my wife, and asked her if she was being held against her will. Really? Riding in the front seat, with a tri-racial child in the back. The lead officer, hand still on his firearm, began to try and frisk me. Again, I refused. The law says I should comply (Pennsylvania v. Mimms) and step out of the vehicle. The law does not allow for illegal search of my person or property.
Funny that he mentions Pennsylvania v. Mimms and how the law says he SHOULD comply with an officer’s request to exit the vehicle, although he admitted to initially refusing the lawful request. He also mentions that the officer wanted to frisk him and then says he refused and that the law does not allow for illegal search of his person or property. I guess in the course of earning his M.S. in Criminal Justice they failed to cover the difference between a frisk and a search. A frisk is a pat down, outside of the clothing, to check for obvious threats like a gun in the waistband. It’s not about going into someone’s pockets or ordering them to pop the trunk. And in the Pennsylvania v. Mimms case, which he mentioned, it also states it’s not a violation of the Fourth Amendment to pat someone down for weapons. So that’s now two lawful requests that Crump has refused to comply with, by his own admission. S o that leaves us with two options, either Crump knew the law, as he claims to, and still chose to violate it, or he didn’t know the law despite earning his M.S. in criminal justice. Either way, his attempt at justification for his actions falls flat and stinks of rebellion.
I stated this to him. He became enraged, breathing threats, and calling me “boy.” It took the other officer to calm him down. Finally, with a lack of any justifiable reason to hold us, they let us go. I’ve never been so angry. My wife never so humiliated.
These experiences are not mere anecdote; this is systemic.
The one thing that leads me to believe that the officer may have been racist is that he called Crump “boy.” But not everyone knows that this is an offensive term to black men. I never knew it until I sat in a diversity class in the police academy. But this officer may have been ignorant of the fact, or he may have very well known about it and chose to use it anyway. He closes his first article with the claim that this kind of encounter is not anecdotal but is systemic. If you’re going to make an absolute claim that something’s systemic, you need to provide evidence of that. You can’t say something’s systemic and not merely anecdotal and then try to prove it by using only anecdotes.
Crump continues in his 2nd article…
Many have asked me in regard to the events in Ferguson, “Where’s the injustice here? Where’s the injustice in this case?” They follow it with requests for proof: “Has there been an unbiased account of what actually happened?” Or, they angrily rebuke, “You really should wait for all of the facts before you speak on this!”
They have missed the forest for the trees.
So asking for an unbiased, factual account of what happened before jumping on the “Wilson is guilty” bandwagon is missing the forest for the trees?
I recently recommended the book Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White by author David R. Roediger (who happens to be…you know…white) to an Italian pastor/friend in Los Angeles.
After reading the first 10 pages, my pastor friend sent this to me:
So for fear of losing control and being tainted by the culture of the immigrant, Anglo-Europeans set up systems of segregation and oppression to protect their own cultural heritage, resulting in the oppression of both immigrants and minority cultures. [These systems include] housing and labor, where conforming brought reward, and not conforming resulted in oppression, hence the injustices dealt upon the ethnic minorities, even today? Am I reading this correctly?
Yes! A resounding “Yes!” He was made alive with truth. You see, this issue is bigger than Mike Brown. It’s bigger even than recently deceased (at the hands of two officers), reportedly mentally challenged Kajieme Powell. For these situations merely serve to shine a light not only on the systemic inequalities that African-Americans are and have been subject to, but also on what is actually in the hearts of most white Americans, even those who claim to profess Christ as Saviour, Lord, and example.
I haven’t read the book Crump suggests here, but I have no doubt that systems were put in place to oppress minority cultures. (By the way, I would suggest two books to Crump to give him a bigger picture, one is “Black Rednecks & White Liberals” by black author Thomas Sowell which can be found here and “Culturism” by black author Scott Hampton which can be found here that show that much of what he is decrying is based on culture and culture alone, not race.)
But while Crump is quick to point out past injustices, he ignores the fact that much has been done to make amends for these wrongs, and fails to mention that “White evangelicals” were one of the only people groups speaking out against slavery when it was unpopular to do so and that they played a major role in the abolition of slavery. Furthermore, his attitude seems to suggest that we actually should ignore the facts in regards to the Ferguson shooting and should side with the protestors merely because of these past injustices, despite the fact that there is no evidence that Darren Wilson has ever harbored a racist thought in his career.
See, there’s a difference here that Crump and many other pastors like Thabiti Anyabwile seem to be overlooking. The black community wasn’t merely asking that we mourn with them that a black man was shot and killed. If that’s all they were asking for, I don’t think any white evangelicals would balk at that. It was certainly tragic that a man’s life ended, because Michael Brown was made in God’s image even if his choices didn’t reflect that. But that’s not all they were asking. They were asking us to join them in rushing to judgment against officer Wilson. That’s a huge, huge difference that can’t be overlooked. Most of the social media comments that Crump has taken issue with probably stem from a refusal to rush to judgment, not merely a refusal to mourn with those who mourn. They’re two distinctly different topics that Crump is wrongfully rolling into one.
We live in an oppressive system, strategically engineered to subvert the progress of entire people groups and benefit the progress of another. This is the injustice.
There are parts of this comment that I agree with but for different reasons. I don’t believe that we still live in a system that is strategically engineered to subvert the progress of blacks. If we do, the system has a bad strategy because our President is black and got re-elected for a second term. There are plenty of examples of black people who have enjoyed great success, and the irony is that Crump is one of them. There are no laws on the books that are different for black people. On the contrary, there are plenty of systems in place to eliminate discrimination and assist minorities such as Affirmative Action, the Fair Housing Act, minority scholarships, etc. I agree that the system has a “rich get richer and poor get poorer” aspect to it, but this affects all races, not just blacks or other minorities. If anything, one might argue that the welfare system has bred a generation of dependents that unintentionally keeps them from realizing their full potential if they would simply work hard and aspire for success. And that’s true of whites as well.
We are still reeling from the effects of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, and all associated behavior. Before the phrase “Get over it, it’s in the past” begins to form on your lips, consider my position. Consider that every time I look into my father’s eyes and see the pale blue rim around them, set back in his very dark skin, or, when I look at the texture of my mother’s nearly porcelain skin tone, I still see the residue of what I’m supposed to get over.
It is these injustices that will not allow white evangelicals to admit that they have built their lives on the backs of the oppressive systems that their grandfathers constructed.
I don’t appreciate being accused of building my life on the backs of oppressive systems that my grandfathers constructed. My father grew up in rural Arkansas, picking cotton at an age and in living conditions that would be considered child abuse by today’s standards. I can assure you, no one handed him or his dad anything that they didn’t work for, and they never contributed to any racist, systemic structures either. And this isn’t an exception, there are multitudes of whites who can share similar stories or worse. I, too, have worked hard for what I have and don’t appreciate that hard work being trivialized as if I had nothing to do with it except that I was born with white skin.
Crump then says…
It is these injustices that would lend their opinion immediately in favor of the officer and against the men whose lives were taken by them.
Crump employs a double standard here. He has no problem immediately siding with Michael Brown or Kajieme Powell, but condemns others who immediately side with a police officer. I truly hope that he isn’t suggesting we should immediately side with criminals when they are shot in the commission of a crime merely because of past injustices. This would be an injustice in and of itself. I don’t think it’s necessarily a good idea to immediately assume an officer is innocent either, until all the facts are in, but again this wasn’t just about mourning with those who mourn, it was about being accused of racism or siding with officer Wilson merely because we didn’t find him guilty in the court of public opinion like so many others did. I don’t blame anyone for getting defensive when such accusations are thrown at them merely because they didn’t rush to judgment like everyone wanted them to.
It is these injustices that would legitimize the death of a teenager by calling him a “thug,” “thief,” and an “aggressor.” It is these injustices that would legitimize the death of a 23-year-old mentally challenged man outside of St. Louis; a 25-year-old mentally challenged man blocks from his home in Los Angeles; a new father, holding a BB gun in the toy section of Wal-Mart; and a father of six in New York. All of these just since July.
I seriously doubt that many “white evangelicals” legitimized the death of Michael Brown for any reason other than the fact – yes FACT – that he assaulted a police officer and attempted to take his gun away from him. And by definition, Michael Brown very much was a thug, a thief and an aggressor. The convenience store video proves it. Yet Crump retweeted this picture, which is nothing but divisive rhetoric…
Both Klebold and Mike Brown were violent criminals. I’m sure, somebody somewhere tried to excuse Klebold’s actions by saying he was merely a misunderstood teenager, but that doesn’t mean that all white people did. I just can’t understand why a pastor would promote this kind of one-sided, divisive propaganda that is completely biased and has no hint of being objective.
Crump then defends Kajieme Powell by saying that he was mentally challenged. Yes, he was mentally challenged. Anyone that advances on two police officers, while holding a knife, and refusing multiple orders to drop the knife, while saying “kill me” HAS to be mentally challenged. Just because he’s mentally challenged doesn’t make him any less of a threat to those officer’s lives. If anything it makes him MORE of a threat.
I guess because the man didn’t attack civilians that means he’s completely harmless right? Could it be that he doesn’t have animosity towards his neighbors but does towards police officers? Could it be that he was attempting “suicide by cop?” What Crump fails to realize is that the officers actually showed more restraint than was legally required of them. Police are taught that a suspect with a knife poses a serious danger when he gets within 21 feet of the officer (some departments now train that 30 feet is the minimum distance for maximized safety). They waited until Powell was around 7 to 8 feet away before firing. This is the danger of thinking that you know how to do police work better than police officers do just because you hold a degree. It’s like saying you know how to drive a car because you’ve read the owner’s manual even though you’ve never gotten behind the wheel. And if Crump or anyone reading this thinks that a knife wielding suspect isn’t a danger at 8 feet away, I invite them to see for themselves with a simple exercise that anyone can do at home. Simply have a friend pose as the suspect and hold an uncapped, red magic marker and then the person in the officer’s shoes can wear a cheap white T-shirt. Ideally the officer could use a paintball pistol, and have them holster it (would need a holster & the suspect would need protective gear) but if that’s not possible just have them use a cap gun or something similar. Then, without warning, have the “suspect” charge the “officer” with the red marker and see if the “officer” can unholster his pistol and land a stopping shot (head or heart) before the suspect is able to get any red marker on the officer’s white T-shirt. You’d be surprised just how fast someone can cover 30 feet, and if you fail to react in time or you land a non-lethal shot instead of the head or heart, the suspect is on you with a knife. And it only takes one second to cut the carotid artery, jugular vein or put an eye out.
Here’s a video to better show how fast a charging suspect with a knife can close the distance.
These are real dangers that officers face daily. These are dangers that the officers that shot Powell faced. Or perhaps Crump is one of those that believes a man with a knife does not pose a strong enough danger to warrant being shot, and that an officer should attempt to disarm them before resulting to using their gun. To which I would reply with these pictures of an officer that attempted that very thing, thinking that because he was bigger, stronger and had combat training that he could disarm the man without getting hurt ***WARNING: GRAPHIC VIOLENCE***
It doesn’t matter if the knife is being held underhand or overhand, this is what a knife can do to a human flesh.
The tweet about Garner would have his followers believe that the kid was indicted merely for filming the incident. He fails to mention that it was a completely unrelated weapons charge that he was indicted on. But that didn’t stop Crump for using it as an opportunity to drive another wedge. A wedge that was re-tweeted 873 times, spreading more wedges like an infection. When someone on Twitter called him out on it, he made a follow up Tweet to cover himself and then was rude to the person that did so…
So yes, Crump did finally make the distinction that the kid wasn’t indicted for merely filming the incident, 20 minutes later, but his followup tweet was retweeted 5 times, whereas the original, inflammatory post was retweeted 873 times. I understand that Twitter’s limitations make it hard to convey full thoughts, which is why Crump was irresponsible to post the original divisive comment without bringing in the full, fair, factual story. His original post made no mention of a part 2 or that there was more to the story coming in a future tweet.
Crump’s rationale is apparently that it wasn’t technically retaliation since he targeted two random officers instead of Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo specifically. He then accuses a person on Twitter of being illogical for thinking it was retaliation…
Even if he’d like to make a case that it wasn’t technically a retaliation, he can’t deny that the sudden flood of anti-police rhetoric in the media, that he has unknowingly contributed to, has caused a spike in the deaths of police officers…
Back to Crump’s article…
Since these victims, like most from where they sprang, are “this way,” apparently they “deserve to die.” Since the justice system is not perfect, but is fair toward all people, this is apparently the outcome of “their choices.” These sentiments are sickening (and are actual quotes, by the way). These sentiments seem to be carried by most in majority culture. These attitudes lack any aroma of the gospel. They lack any essence of the great grace of Christ, upon which we say our faith is built.
I’m not entirely sure what Crump is trying to say here. Is he trying to say that these “victims” had no say whatsoever in what happened to them? Did the police kick their door in and drag them out into the street and execute them while they were minding their own business? Is personal responsibility no longer allowed to be even discussed or even considered without being accused of being racist or at the very least insensitive? Should police officers simply allow a minority to take their gun from them or stab them for the sake of showing sympathy for the injustices of days gone by? This kind of logic is madness! That he says “these attitudes lack any aroma of the gospel and lack any essence of the great grace of Christ” is probably the most baffling statement he makes. Apparently grace should be shown to everyone except police officers. It’s interesting that while the thief hung on the cross next to Jesus, and Jesus forgave him, He didn’t miraculously remove the man from the cross and heal his wounds. No, the thief still died on the cross. The thief still paid for the consequences of his choices. Was he given grace and allowed into Heaven? Yes. But the wages of sin is still death.
Crump continues in his Closing Thoughts…
I am nearly positive that this article will divide, and in that I am perfectly comfortable.
Hold on, didn’t he just get done complaining that people have wrongfully labeled him as “divisive?” No one needs to label him divisive, he’s now done that all on his own!
My minority brothers and sisters, in almost melodic unison will read this and feel heard, valued, and appreciated. They will feel as if they can breathe again.
Meanwhile, from what I can see in social media, and from a history of being willing to wrestle with these things among people in the majority culture, there will be a resounding cacophony of either silence or rebuke, ridicule, or complaint from others.
In other words, “listen and agree with me, but don’t dare have a differing opinion, and if you do, just stay quiet about it.” Got it.
But where I am presently is where I was on last Monday when I tweeted, “I have two daughters. I daily pray for a son. But if he’ll be in danger for being black and large, perhaps I should stop praying.” That is how I feel down to my soul. Disowning those feelings will not produce the “progress” my white evangelical friends say they want.
This statement is absurd. Yes, if you have a child, and you don’t teach him things like accountability, personal responsibility, respect for authority, and not to attack police officers, or even worse if you raise your child to hate police officers, yes you should be very afraid, whether your child is male or female, black or white, small or large.
Here’s another tweet that Crump retweeted on this issue…
This man is asking what he should tell his daughter, and Crump, a pastor and leader, completely drops the ball just as he did with his own daughter. What an ideal moment to speak wisdom into these children’s lives, and instead they punt and allow seeds of hatred towards police to be planted in their young daughters’ minds. Absolutely shameful.
Romans 13:3-4 says, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is a servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” I wish that pastors like Crump, Anyabwile and Bryan Loritts would exegete this passage publicly just once. That’s what baffles me about their logic on this issue. They act as if all black men are likely to be hunted down by racist white cops, as if the only factors that would ever play into such an event are being male and being black. Which begs the question, why is Crump alive today? Could it be because he’s never assaulted a police officer, tried to take his gun or advanced on an officer while holding a knife? Why does the conversation have to terminate on the color of someone’s skin? Why are no other factors allowed to even be brought into the discussion without them being considered racist, ignorant or insensitive? How long must one wait silently, while police officers are criticized, despised and dragged through the mud, before they’re allowed to speak a differing opinion?
When Voddie Baucham, a black pastor who was invited to be part of a panel at the “A Time to Speak” conference, emphasized the importance of teaching children to avoid living a thug lifestyle, his opinion was condemned and he had to go on the defensive from some of the other speakers on the panel such as Bryan Loritts, Thabiti Anyabwile and Ed Stetzer. Loritts and Stetzer continually try to interrupt and change the subject while Voddie is speaking because he’s calling them out on their hypocrisy regarding having no empathy for Darren Wilson (see 27:00 through 28:15 mark of the video which can be found here)
I digress & Crump continues…
In an interview, Dr. King once said these words with respect to the civil rights movement:
… The most pervasive mistake I have made was in believing that because our cause was just, we could be sure that the white ministers of the South, once their Christian consciences were challenged, would rise to our aid. I felt that white ministers would take our cause to the white power structures. I ended up, of course, chastened and disillusioned.
Again, Crump fails to recognize that white evangelicals played a major role not only in the abolition of slavery but in the civil rights movement as well. Not that anyone deserves a Thank You for doing what should have been done all along, but for Crump to act as if every white person or white pastor was against equal rights is unfair to say the least.
I am praying that here, now, this mistake will be rectified. I want to believe that you will rise to our aid, and that you would agree that a silent Christian who avoids applying the gospel to issues of injustice—though those issues may be uneasy, unclear or politicized—upholds the very structures that purport and perpetuate injustice.
So that’s the end of Crump’s second article. I’d love to know what systemic injustices he believes still exist. Is the system perfect? Of course not. We live in a fallen world. Is the system rigged against black people? No. Is racism still out there today? Of course. It probably always will be. That’s the result of a fallen world and the sinful, depraved heart of man. I’m not saying we shouldn’t still work towards ending racism through sharing the gospel and making disciples, so don’t get me wrong. In fact, I’m saying quite the opposite. But when pastors like Leonce Crump, Thabiti Anyabwile and Bryan Loritts hurl accusations at police officers and white evangelicals, they’d better come with some strong evidence (not anecdotes) to back those accusations. Otherwise, yes, people are going to get defensive, can anyone blame them?
Having said that, let me address some of Crump’s concerns with facts and statistics (not only anecdotes).
Between 2003-2012, of police officers killed in the line of duty, 43% of the offenders were black, although blacks account for only 13% of the country’s population. Source for this stat is found here.
Despite this disproportionate number, there is no statistical evidence that officers have killed a disproportionate number of blacks compared to other races during arrests. Statistics show that in 2012, 28.1% of all arrestees were black, and 31% of all people killed by police were black, a difference of less than 2%, proving there is no disproportionate number of blacks being killed by police, but showing the percentage squares with how many blacks are being arrested.
And this study found that officers are actually more hesitant to pull the trigger when the suspect is black, for fear of racial harangue… (Study can be found here.)
Between 1976 and 2011 across the United States, 7,982 blacks were murdered each year, on average, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. About 227 blacks (2.8 percent) were shot by police each year, according to a study by Pro Publica. And although the exact number of blacks shot by the police each year is difficult to pin down because some cities don’t report their statistics, the number is probably accurate to within 1 or 2 percent, give or take.
In 2012, of all black murder victims, 91% were killed by other blacks, while on average only 2.8% are killed by justifiable homicide at the hands of police since 1976. Which begs the question, why are whites and white police officers the target of so much hatred and criticism when it’s actually other blacks that are committing the overwhelming majority of the murders of blacks? This is normally where someone will make accusations that I’m trying to reduce black lives to statistics, but the facts have to be examined if we’re going to have this conversation. You can’t simply ignore these facts in this discussion.
I’ve mentioned once that racism still exists in this country, but it’s absolutely a two way street, in fact statistics show that black-on-white crime is exponentially more prevalent than vice versa, which is shown here.
These are facts that Crump will likely either ignore or attempt to trivialize for some reason or another, but they’re facts all the same. But now that we’ve covered the legal and social aspects, let’s focus again on the theological ones. As I mentioned, pastors like Crump, Anyabwile and Loritts won’t touch Romans 13 with a 10 foot pole, which is tragic because this is the very chapter that they should be preaching the loudest and most often.
You see, as tragic as Mike Brown’s demise was, there’s something even more tragic that I haven’t heard a pastor mention yet. What of the destination of his eternal soul? Why hasn’t this been discussed by pastors? Why is all of the focus on the earthly and temporal, with nary a mention of the eternal? Yes, it’s important to fight for justice on earth, but it’s infinitely more important that these young black men (and all other men & women as well) are ready to meet their Maker if and when they breathe their last breath on this earth, whether that’s a result of being shot by the police or otherwise.
That’s the most sorely needed aspect of this entire conversation and it’s gone completely unmentioned by Crump and others! There’s a common theme that I’ve seen from the pastors that are Michael Brown apologists. They want grace but not law for black men, and law but not grace for police officers and other whites. That’s not the gospel. That’s just enabling sinful lifestyles for one group and being legalists towards the other.
I like a tweet I saw that said, “Show grace absolutely, but grace without guidance towards repentance is not grace, but encouragement to sin.”
Another quote by John MacArthur… “Gospel without Law produces faith without repentance.”
There’s a verse you can pair with that from Romans 6:15 that says “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!”
The point of this blog was not to pile on pastor Crump. As I said, I didn’t even want to write it but I felt compelled to. I believe his one-sided, anti-police rhetoric is contributing to the very problem he wants to eliminate and it’s doing more harm than good. It’s important because when our most visible pastors are perpetuating myths that police officers are all out for black blood, it leads to officers getting killed. We already saw it with Ramos and Liu, as well as the 40% increase in officer deaths in 2014. And one token tweet of how it’s wrong to kill cops does very little to stem the tide of all the other anti-police rhetoric that’s being spread like wildfire.
But again, as important as that is, it’s even more important that they stress the importance of repentance from sin, not enabling of it. There are lives at stake yes, but more importantly there are souls at stake.
In closing, I truly hope that Crump can learn forgiveness and grace for all, not just for those that look like him. And I hope that going forward he will declare the importance of abstaining from sinful lifestyles instead of wrongfully enabling and excusing them under the guise of grace. I hope that he will use his position of influence and leadership to teach young men a better way, instead of perpetuating division and resentment. I also pray that God will reveal any areas of my heart that hold resentment or racism, and pray that He would melt them away. I know that this blog was pretty blunt, and I apologize if I have offended or hurt anyone, but it’s an important message that needs to be spoken. Young men need the FULL gospel, not just one aspect of it.
Thank you for reading this blog, and please check out my debut novel, on sale for only 99 cents! You can find it the novel here!
When a Houston cop kills a black teenager in self defense, the ensuing media windstorm creates a frenzy of outraged citizens. In an act of retaliation, the officer’s wife is raped and murdered, and the officer unceremoniously fired. With his life in shambles and his faith destroyed, the officer joins the other side of the law and vows bloody vengeance on everyone responsible. Taking no prisoners, the officer embarks on a mission of revenge, with the fate of his soul hanging in the balance.